The fourth installment in the Motivation Series. The first three discussed failing in order to succeed, not sabotaging yourself, and pushing your boundaries.
True story: My Sunday afternoon run ended at the all-you-can-eat-toppings falafel restaurant a few blocks from my apartment. It was not a fluke; I arrived with cash in hand and long sleeve shirt to ward off post-run shivers. [Ok, that was a true story back when I started writing this post, about creating motivation out of a lack thereof, way back in October in DC..., but definitely a topic for every season in every city.]
Another truth: being an athlete does not come with a bottomless well of ready motivation. But being a good athlete requires that undefinable force, sometimes from an unidentifiable source, that gets us off the couch, out the door, without delay, often multiple times per day, sometimes in crappy weather, frequently when exhausted and stiff, and many times when simply bored by the idea. People throw around lots of terms - commitment, concentration, confidence, dedication... - but a rose by any other name is still required to get out the door without second-guessing or delay.
Sometimes you simply have to create it from [pfft] thin air.
Hence my sweaty arrival at a falafel restaurant. It was a simple 40 min run. Runs like that mean nothing - and everything. On their own they hardly seem worth the dirty laundry, but combined and compiled, they are miles and fitness. The mortar between the bricks. The third leg of the stool. I had been dreaming about falafel all weekend, I had one last workout before dinner, and well, I know myself well enough to know that sometimes I am happy to run for food. That was the button that got pushed to get me out the door that day and I'm not ashamed of it. The stool's gotta stand!
Another truth: Inspiration comes from without, motivation comes from within. So when the internal well runs dry, make MacGyver proud and use what you have handy: shoelace, gum, paperclip....the food, iPod mix, or route that inspires you.
Motivation is as much knowing about yourself as it is knowing about your options. Do you thrive on: group rides? Or solo rides with music? Morning workouts to get workouts off the to-do list early? Squeezing an 1:05 into your lunch hour? Late night runs? Trails? Country high-ways? Tracks? Open water swims? Long course pools? Short course pools? What gets you out the door: The carrot (or falafel)? The stick ("I can't do X, Y, Z until I do A, B, C.")? Learn what you like and that not-so-bottomless well of motivation will gain a few feet of depth.
And keeping that well filled is as much about not being bored as it is being interested. Do any of these ring a bell? "3...2...1...step over that crack they still haven't repaired" "just a little faster so I make this series of lights" "careful now, this is the stop sign every taxi cab driver blows through" "31:15...light post..31:53....mailbox...32:49...garbage can" Who really wants to get out the door, let alone push some limits, when the view never changes?
Last truth: with motivation, sometimes you simply have to fake it until you make it. Don't be ashamed to use whatever works and change whatever doesn't.